Getting to know the applicant behind Casper with Snapshot

How the University of Louisville School of Dentistry used Snapshot

“When we’re listening to an applicant, we imagine that we’re patients and ask ourselves how we would feel interacting with this person. Are they empathetic? Can they clearly explain things to reduce patient anxiety and instil trust? Snapshot allows us to gauge these qualities and authenticity more so than other tools, and with the improvements being made to Snapshot this cycle, we’re confident it can help strengthen our admissions process.”

Jami Campbell, Assistant Director of Admissions, University of Louisville School of Dentistry

Highlights

Challenge

  • The admissions process was not as holistic or efficient as it could be, and the team was starting to recognize the limitations of cognitive metrics. 
  • While Casper was initially adopted to provide a quick, evidence-based, and data-driven way to evaluate non-cognitive attributes, the admissions committee still didn’t have enough to really know their applicants.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the school’s usual two-part interview process.

Solution

  • The school’s B.S. Dental Hygiene and D.M.D programs participated in the Snapshot pilot, using the tool as the second interview to assess the consistency of applicants’ communication skills and motivation between the two interviews prior to making offers.

Results

  • The standardized and accessible on-demand video interview format was a successful substitute for the program’s second interview at a time when in-person communication was not possible. Snapshot responses were helpful in identifying red flags and gauging authenticity and consistency in applicants’ interview behaviors.
  • During the 2021/22 application cycle, Snapshot will be used as the first interview to inform selections for final interviews.

Deep Dive

When Jami Campbell made the transition from working in student affairs to the School of Dentistry’s admissions office, she immediately took note of areas that needed improvement.

“I knew that the admissions process wasn’t really holistic or even all that efficient,” says Jami. “Systems can be hard to change, but it’s all about securing buy-in from the right people. Thankfully, we had new faculty join our admissions committee who were eager to look for evidence-based ways to assess more aspects of our applicants.”

Jami goes on to explain that faculty members had attended Dr. Harold Reiter’s presentation at the annual American Dental Education Association (ADEA) conference a few years ago, and were convinced of the research behind the Casper assessment. 

“We needed reliable data on those non-cognitive qualities that we could use to inform decisions about who we invite to interviews or who we ultimately select for offers, and Casper could provide that,” explains Jami.

University of Louisville School of Dentistry logo

About the school
Founded in 1887, The University of Louisville School of Dentistry is a state-supported institution with a mission to improve the oral and overall health of those they serve. The school also aims to transform lives by educating oral health care professionals to provide patient-centered treatment through innovative approaches, community engagement, strong leadership, and research for a future filled with promise. The School of Dentistry offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels, with Altus Suite being a requirement for applicants to the B.S. Dental Hygiene and D.M.D programs.

No. of applicants per year
80-100 for B.S. Dental Hygiene

2,100 for D.M.D.

No. of matriculants per year
30 for B.S. Dental Hygiene

120 for D.M.D.

Like most other academic institutions and programs, the school previously used a combination of personal statements, reference letters, and interviews to assess these qualities, even though research has long cast doubt on their reliability, predictive validity, and fairness (the exception being structured interview formats like the MMI). Despite the abundance of research on these tools, they continue to be widely used precisely because there are few alternatives like Casper. 

“It can sometimes be hard to gauge how authentic some of those personal statements or reference letters are because we have no previous knowledge of these applicants’ personal qualities,” says Jami. “That’s why we’re grateful to have Casper as part of our process. It gives us data that we can use alongside those tools to give us a bit more confidence and reduce hesitancy during file reviews.”  

Though Casper has helped improve their process, the school knew they needed more than a single score for measuring non-cognitive competencies. “We wanted to be able to get to know the applicant behind the Casper score, and that’s partially why we use these scores alongside our interviews,” says Jami.

And that’s where the school came head-to-head with another obstacle: COVID-19. They had to quickly figure out how to interview promising applicants before deciding on offers. Applicants usually go through two rounds of in-person interviews, but public health restrictions made that impossible, and scheduling multiple rounds of live virtual interviews was also not feasible. 

Enter Snapshot.

The disruption caused by the pandemic led Altus Assessments to launch Snapshot, a 10-minute standardized one-way video interview, as a pilot midway through the cycle. This short, on-demand option gave a structured interview format programs could rely on as a decision factor, while giving applicants an accessible opportunity to showcase more of their unique personal and professional qualities.

“We were thrilled that we had this option,” shares Jami. “We asked all our applicants who completed the first round of interviews to complete Snapshot, basically functioning as a replacement for the second interview.”

So how did Jami and the admissions team use Snapshot? They used it as an additional piece of information while reviewing their applicants, looked at whether there were stark differences from applicants’ first interviews, and focused on identifying outliers and red flags before deciding on offers.

When asked specifically what they were looking for in applicants’ responses in Snapshot and their normal interviews, Jami explains, “when we’re listening to an applicant, we imagine ourselves as patients and ask ourselves how we would feel interacting with this person. Are they empathetic? Can they clearly explain things to reduce patient anxiety and instil trust? Snapshot allows us to gauge these qualities more so than other tools, and with the improvements being made to Snapshot, we’re confident it can help strengthen our admissions process.”

The improvements Jami mentions that are coming this cycle include new questions, clearer construct definitions and a revamped rating scale with anchor words to provide more detailed guidance on how to score, as well as enhanced reviewer training that addresses implicit bias.

For this cycle, The University of Louisville School of Dentistry plans to make Snapshot function as the first interview to maximize resource efficiency, and use it alongside Casper to assess applicants whose scores in other areas hover on the borderline. “There can be amazing future dentists who may miss out on a valuable opportunity to interview with us because their scores in other areas may not be as strong. We believe Casper and Snapshot will help with that. These are assessments built on research, administered by a team that listens to feedback to make continuous improvements so that we can make high-stakes decisions with more confidence.”


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